An allotment all-you-can-eat? Bringing small-farm produce to high street dining

There’s no doubting the miracle of globalisation: the tearing down of all manner of barriers has allowed businesses around the world to break into new markets, and consumers have benefited from cheaper access to a range of products and services than ever before.

A common criticism of the move towards a global trading and standards regime has been that those best positioned to benefit are the global mega-corps with their vast influence and economies of scale, however. Trends in national agriculture have tended to mirror those on the global scene, moreover: small-scale farmers have been squeezed by mega-producers, and are vulnerable to floods of commodity-grade produce should demand in one part of the world fall.

Small farmers, many of whom raise crops and livestock on land owned by their families for generations, are therefore looking to new markets to secure their livelihood. That doesn’t necessarily mean competing with the big boys, or even looking to export themselves, however: ironically, the key to survival in this global day and age is to think local.

Part of it comes to one’s attitude towards food. If what’s on the end of your fork is merely fuel, one dose of protein, carbs and sugars is more or less interchangeable with the next. If, however, one is more inclined towards flavour, texture, and an interest in the provenance of one’s nutrition, a move towards locally sourced produce makes sense. Thinking along these lines has entered popular culture – Jamie Oliver, British cuisine’s premier mover-and-shaker, is a household name and a strong supporter of locally sourced, natural produce. The Slow Food movement, meanwhile, promotes a “comprehensive approach to food that recognises the strong connections between plate, planet, people, politics and culture,” with an emphasis on community and the environment.

As the British palette becomes increasingly sophisticated and health-conscious, and awareness of the benefits of organic and environmentally responsible produce become more widespread, patrons of farmers markets, restaurant buyers, caterers are looking for shorter supply lines and a return to fresh, healthy food.

Here is where small farmers come into their own. The question is how to connect to clients; while mega-food corps’ business model isn’t suited to meeting the needs of a more discerning clientele, they do have effective market entry and logistical mechanisms that small producers struggle to match.

This disconnect is one that Ordr.kitchen, a new e-commerce platform connecting small farmers with their clients, is set to address. By matching producers of responsibly grown foods to buyers interested in niche producer, the programme will help to sustain the great British tradition of small-scale farming whilst helping to meet the demand for healthy, environmentally and social responsible food.

Sellers simply list their produce and delivery terms, and buyers bid accordingly. The platform functions on a modest commission basis, ensuring maximum efficiency and market transparency at a fair price for all participants.
To find out more about the platform, visit Ordr Kitchen or e-mail hello@ordr.kitchen.

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